Posts Tagged ‘ Armenian Genocide ’

Fight between friends

Petros Sirinoglu (L) and Turkish PM Erdogan

Well, finally, I mean finally, we now know what happened and what caused the Armenian Genocide! The riddle is solved!

A prominent Turkish-Armenian leader (I don’t know how prominent, just prominent), has apologized to the Turkish PM RT Erdogan for not telling the real numbers of the Armenians residing in Turkey thus causing the PM to cite the wrong numbers in the now infamous BBC interview where the latter threatened to deport illegal Armenian immigrants who had come to Turkey for work. Well, ok, wrong numbers, who doesn’t do that right? We are all bad at math, so who am I to double guess? But get this Kafkaesque twist. So the Turkish PM threatens you with deportation, you come and ask for forgiveness? If this does not remind you of the days of the Sultanate I don’t know what will, forgetting for a second that Erdogan increasingly is using such terms as “my people,” “my Turkish people,” usage that resembles the days of the Ottoman Sultans who spoke of their Muslim subjects as “my people”  and non Muslim subjects as rayahs, or sheep, or cattle, basically as grazing and, by and large, leaderless animals, whose “prominent leaders” such as the very dear rayah Sirinoglu were always standing by ready to bow and ask for forgiveness from the “dear leader.” One thing about the sheep is that they inevitably end up on the sacrificial altar, and Sirinoglu perhaps senses this dynamic and is trying to shield himself from being led to the proverbial altar by initiating the farcical kabuki dance. But what is equally as farcical is the fact that he calls the Armenian Genocide a “fight between friends.” Oh really? I’ll grant you that metaphor, if and only if you grant me the following one. One group of friends were far more numerous and attacked and killed, raped, mutilated, burned, starved to death en masse, threw off cliffs, threw into rivers, torpedoed boats on the sea, the other group of friends, their wives, their children, their parents, sacked their places of worship, converted some to another religion, erased their memory from textbooks, believes them to be parasitic, turned their churches into cattle-houses (well this one somehow all of a sudden makes sense), and is economically trying to choke their other friends, you know, across the border. So basically yes, it was a fight between friends, and lots of toys were broken in the process, so why should we care? We can always buy new toys!


It’s sad to be an ambassador of Turkey


One of my favorite poets is the late Israeil poet Yehuda Amichai, whose poems I revisit from time to time. I really admire his work, they are not unlike some of Charents’ and Sevak’s work, soaked with a spirit of melancholy, sad yet life affirming and far from cynical. The reason for why I am bringing up Amichai is that as I was reading up on the latest Armenia related news several things stood apart. The very interesting Turkish ambassadors tasked with representing their country, but of late, de-presenting it by being recalled. They would make an interesting character study and here is why. Amichai has this beautiful poem called Mayor.

It’s sad to be
the mayor of Jerusalem —
it’s terrible.
How can a man be mayor of such a city?
What can he do with it?
Build and build and build.

And at night the stones of the mountains crawl down
and surround the stone houses,
like wolves coming to howl at the dogs,
who have become the slaves of man.

The Selected Poems of Yehuda Amichai, trans. and ed. by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, (Berkley, CA: University of California Press), 35.

Now imagine you are a Turkish ambassador. It’s terrible. You are engaged in the Sisyphean struggle of lobbying, lobbying, lobbying all of which come to naught when some Swedes and Americans decide to remind you of your country’s bloody past over which you are still unrepentant, at least in the public eye, the Israelis (for their own reasons) sit you in a booster seat, the 60 Minutes and Bob Simon manhandle you, you are recalled from the four corners of the world (yes the world is flat and rectangle, just ask Tommy Friedman), one of your daughters is threatened with death over her advocacy on behalf of the despised Armenians, and then Harut Sassounian writes this snarky piece:

Thousands of articles are posted on the internet every day. But, very few make us fall off our chairs!
Last week I came across a shocking news item posted by the Turkish Forum — the largest website for Turkish news. It was titled: “Forgotten Ambassador in Sierra Leone Uses Armenian Genocide Resolution to solve his Problem.” Here is the summary in translation of that incredible article:
“In recent years, parliaments of several countries have adopted resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. In retaliation, Turkey has recalled its ambassadors from these countries. It has been revealed that some opportunistic ambassadors exploited this situation, by abusing their position.
“According to a Foreign Ministry announcement this morning, Orhan Emin Turkone, Turkey’s Ambassador in Sierra Leone for the past 12 years, has been fired for having lobbied for the passage of the Armenian Genocide bill in that country’s Parliament.
“During a press conference this morning, the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary Ersin Ozbukey explained: ‘Recently, it came to our attention that the so-called Armenian Genocide bill was placed on the agenda of the Parliaments of Chad, Eritrea, and Djibouti. But, when we saw that this bill was unanimously adopted by the Parliament of Sierra Leone, we started suspecting that something had gone terribly wrong.’ Ozbukey added: ‘We formed an investigative committee that uncovered some interesting, but disturbing information.’
“’We confirmed that Amb. Turkone had carried out lobbying activities in favor of the Armenian Genocide bill,’ Ozbukey stated. ‘Of course, this can’t be excused, but the Ministry also has its fault in this affair. This man was abandoned and forgotten in a far away country. He got that idea, after [Turkish] Ambassadors were recalled following the adoption of the genocide resolution by other countries. Twelve years is a long time,’ Ozbukey admitted. Read more>>

It must be indeed terrible to be a Turkish ambassador, when you know you could well be a character in a Kafka or a Camus book to illustrate the absurdity of human existence. On the brighter side, it is definitely better than being Duchamp’s Fountain.

Armenian Genocide Museum in DC lawsuit closer to resolution?

McClatchy’s DC bureau blog is reporting on the ongoing “intramural fight” between two rival camps tasked with the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum of America and the lawsuit that has effectively slowed down the development of the project.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly calls a fight over a proposed Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial “very bitter and very unfortunate.” Looks like it will stay that way for a while.

On Tuesday, Judge Kollar-Kotelly kept at least part of the ongoing lawsuit alive, though she narrowed it a bit. In two related rulings, here and here, the judge granted some but not all motions to dismiss various claims and counter-claims.

In brief, and we mean brief, the Armenian Assembly of America wants to build the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial on the site of an old bank in downtown Washington, D.C. For a time, Gerard R. Cafesjian, formerly executive vice president of West Publishing, and the Cafejian Family Foundation were involved in the effort. Then: bad blood ensued.

The cases are complicated, but the discovery is illuminating.

At one point, for instance, documents show a consultant recommended naming the museum the “Bank of Moral Courage.” This did not go over well. Read more>>

The Bank of Moral Courage? Really? Who came up with the name? Tata? Or was it Boka?

Historiographic perversion

Just began reading Marc Nichanian’s “Historiographic Perversion,” a collection of philosophical reflections by the French-Armenian philosopher and a former longtime professor of Armenian studies at Columbia University. The book begins by Nichanian’s powerful first salvo:

“Genocide is not a fact (Le genocide n’est pas un fait).

Genocide is not a fact because it is the very destruction of the fact, of the notion of fact, of the factuality of fact.”

I think I am going to like this book already.

Meanwhile it is available through the Columbia UP website with a 50% discount.

From the publisher’s release:

Genocide is a matter of law. It is also a matter of history. Engaging some of the most disturbing responses to the Armenian genocide, Marc Nichanian strikingly reveals the complex role played by law and history in making this and other genocides endure as contentious events.

Nichanian’s book argues that both law and history fail to contend with the very nature of events for which there is no archive (no documents, no witnesses). Both history and law fail to address the modern reality that events can be—and are now being—perpetrated that depend upon the destruction of the archive, turning monstrous deeds into nonevents. Genocide, this book makes us see, is in one sense the destruction of the archive. It relies on the historiographic perversion.